Why Your “Academic Narrative” and a Foundation for Your Intended Major Matter

Why Your “Academic Narrative” and a Foundation for Your Intended Major Matter

Let’s say you were a star student at an Illinois high school last year. You want to attend the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, so you check out the Princeton Review’s guide. You find out that Illinois is competitive in admissions, but how competitive?

The answer actually depends on what you want to study.

To reach its class of 7,963 first-year students this fall, the university started with 63,258 applicants. It admitted 28,355 of them. That’s a competitive class to be sure, admitting 45 percent of those who applied.

But let’s say you want to study computer science, which was the intended major of 16 percent of the applicants. Of the 10,214 applicants, the university admitted only 7 percent of them.

Or let’s say you wanted to study business, which was the first choice of more than 10 percent of all applicants. Of the 6,771 applicants, 28 percent were admitted.

Major matters, and if a major is competitive, you need to be competitive for it. You need to take the right classes and have a resume that points toward that major. You’ll want to read more here!

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Thinking About Majoring in Business?

Food for thought from R. Glenn Hubbard, Dean, Graduate School of Business, Columbia University:

What I’d tell teenagers today: pick a good liberal arts school and learn how to think.

I totally agree! Especially if a student thinks an MBA is in their future. Having worked in MBA admissions, I know that an undergraduate degree in business is not a prerequisite for admission to a top-tier MBA program. Many applicants admitted to HBS, GSB, Columbia, Wharton, etc., come armed with liberal arts degrees or backgrounds in humanities. Within Wharton’s MBA Class of 2017, for example, 42% of students represent humanities majors, while only 29% represent undergraduate business majors. I have nothing against undergraduate business programs, in fact, I think many of them offer innovative programming and provide students a solid foundation in business education—but learning how to think is also important.